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August 5, 2013

Fantasy Freestyle

Ditch or Play Down the Stretch

by Mike Gianella


If you’re in an NL- or AL-only league, your bed is made with all of the big-ticket items on your roster. Starlin Castro might be a disappointment, but at this point he’s your disappointment. You’re not going to cut him for a back-up middle infielder in the free agent pool who is going to get three to five at-bats a week.

In mixed leagues, however, these are the types of players you have to make choices on down the stretch. A number of mixed leaguers have already cut the cord with Castro. However, there are other players who might be worthy of tossing off of your roster, or at least keeping on reserve for the time being. Below are a handful of players who are slumping yet mostly owned in mixed leagues. Should you hang on or try to find better stats elsewhere?

Gerardo Parra
Some viewed Parra as a big-time fantasy sleeper entering 2013, particularly in mixed leagues. The thinking was that his strong defense would keep him in the line-up no matter what, and while his counting stats would not be incredible, he would be a solid source of steals and a sneaky source of power. A 10-HR, 25-SB season didn’t seem out of whack for Parra, and while that certainly wasn’t going to make him a prime choice, it would have made him a vital fourth or fifth outfielder.

So far, the results have been disappointing. While Parra has been picking up at bats, the steals haven’t been prolific and, at-bat for at-bat, his production has suffered. Despite this, Parra is playing on a regular basis, primarily because his defense has been as terrific as advertised. While the certainty of playing time helps, without a high quantity of steals, Parra is a questionable mixed league option. He’s currently owned in 42 percent of ESPN leagues, which seems appropriate. He seems much more like an injury replacement than an everyday player.

Manny Machado
Given all of the real-life accolades for Machado, you wouldn’t expect to see him on this list. But a post-All-Star-Game slump puts him firmly on the list of players who haven’t delivered of late. One of the problems with Machado is that while his defense makes him one of the best third basemen in real life, his fantasy production isn’t spectacular at all. Machado is an example of an asset in only leagues who is questionable in mixed formats. His 64 runs and 51 RBI put him far above replacement level in AL-only; in mixed leagues, a lot of corner infielders play everyday, score, and drive in runs. Machado’s nine home runs and six stolen bases aren’t special production from a corner. Long term, there’s more power coming in this bat. In 2013, there are no guarantees that big-time power is on its way. Machado is still worthy of starting in mixed leagues, but don’t count on him as an invaluable asset.

Adam LaRoche
Earlier this year, I pointed out that despite perceptions that LaRoche is a perpetual slow starter, the reality is that LaRoche has had more strong Aprils than weak ones and is more of a streaky hitter than anything else. Sure enough, LaRoche is on one of those bad streaks now. A .159/.227/.284 slash line in July has pushed LaRoche’s numbers down significantly. Overall, he looks like the same player he always has with the exception of the worst slugging percentage of his career in 2013 to date. The good news from a fantasy perspective is that most of the loss in power has come on LaRoche’s doubles and triples. He’s still on pace to finish in the mid-20s in home runs and a streaky burst to get close to 30 wouldn’t be a shock. If you grabbed LaRoche in a mixer, you should have assumed this kind of streakiness heading into the season. Bench him if you must, but if you give up on LaRoche entirely, you’ll probably miss his next big upswing.

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Premium Article Daily Roundup: Around ... (08/05)
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